Veggie Shepherd’s Pie from Chef Tom Allbrook

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Ingredients:

  • 1x Sweet potato (Large)
  • 1x Normal potato (Large)
  • 2x Banana shallot
  • 3x Smoked garlic gloves
  • 1x Tin flageolet beans
  • 1x Small tin butter beans
  • 1x Tin Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1x Veg stock cube
  • 1x Pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1x Tsp. Smoked paprika
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 50g feta
  • 70g gruyere cheese
  • 30g butter

Method:

Peel the sweet and normal potato and chop them into small chunks. This will help them cook quicker. Then places in a pan of boiling water and cook for about 20 25 mins.

Finally dice your shallots and garlic and put place in a medium sized saucepan that is hot with a glug of oil and sweat them down add your spices, and rest of your ingredients, plus a ½ a glass of boiling water and leave to cook out for 15 to 20 mins.

Now return to your spuds and strain them off go in with a good couple of knobs of butter a glug of oil 50g of crumbled feta and same of gruyere cheese a pinch of salt and pepper and mash well.

In an oven dish pour the mixture in and top with the mash now grate the rest of the cheese over the top and place in a hot oven at 190.c for about 30 to 35 mins or until bubbling and cheese is golden.

I like to serve this proper comfort meal with buttered kale and peas.

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The Samuel Jones, Quayside

Modern refurbished pub restaurant with amazing views across the Exe and good food…

The Samuel Jones, 37 Commercial Road, Exeter, EX2 4AE – 01392 345345

Ah, the Quay. Nothing better than finding a nice spot, dangling your legs over the side and letting the swans nibble your toes whilst you sip on a cool beer.  It is definitely one of the nicest spots in the city, especially on a hot summer afternoon.

One company that saw the potential in this spot was St Austell Brewery who opened The Samuel Jones a couple of years ago, a large craft ale smokehouse located in what was a bonded warehouse.  Some of you might remember when it was Boxes & Boogies, a long standing nightclub with sticky floors and dark walls; the transformation from this previous life to the hip, freshly clad restaurant is an aesthetic revelation for the quayside.

We were invited over to see the £1.5 million refurbishment, to taste some ale and have something to eat.  For me it solidified that St Austell Brewery had really managed to get it right in terms of location and design.

In March this year the pub won The Publican Morning Advertiser’s Award for best new pub, judges praising the 19th Century Aesthetics which had been tastefully preserved.

Using local produce their skilled team of chefs create some fine dishes that are inspired by smokehouse recipes.  The specials are even matched to beers and ales, of which the pub boasts that it has the largest selection in the region.

And who was Samuel Jones? Well you can read a brief history of the building and the man on their website.

The menu caters for wide tastes with its smokehouse inspired creations.  There are specials as well including the extensive range of ales and ciders which are available from the bar or via service.

We were lucky to be seated near a window, looking across the Quay. There are large windows looking at the Transport Shed and across the river itself. The views from the restaurant are some of the best in Exeter.  Perfect for people watching or just relaxing in the sunshine.   With their views over the Exe further upstream at The Mill On The Exe, St Austell Brewery have really got a monopoly on eating out in Exeter with a river view.

We arrived in the evening, starving and ready to tackle three courses.  Our server was Laura who was attentive and friendly throughout our meal.  She offered us some Ale tasters and naturally, well, it’d be rude not to try.

The Ale tasters came out on a small metal tray in shot glasses.  Three small samples to help you decide what to choose from the vast selection that they stock.

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The green looking one at the back is Neck Oil, a fruity ale with an elderflowery nose.  It was light and refreshing, perfect summer sip which we both declared our favourite.  The yellowy one on the left of the image is Admiral ale. Nutty, hoppy and almost savory in many ways, I’ve had it before but it wasn’t my favourite.  Finally we had Tribute…which is Tribute and served everywhere.

Deciding not to go with any of these, as we’d already selected our drinks before this came out, and because when it comes to alcohol I am a massive light-weight, we did make a note to look out for Neck Oil as it is rare to find a light fruity ale with strong fruit overtones that doesn’t get overhopped.  I had a pint of Smash #4 and Tori settled for the wonderful Korev which we both know and love.

For starter Tori opted for the Deep Fried Pickled Gherkins, Onion & Carrot served with smoked cauliflower and almond purée with roasted garlic (£6.00) and I chose the 12 Hour Hickory Smoked tender Pork Shoulder served with pickled onions, gherkins and robata charred focaccia (£6.00).

The Deep Friend Pickled Gherkins were VERY pickled.  Well cooked and with a crispy batter; it was a strange yet pleasant combination but definitely for those who love their pickled veg as it was very strong.

My smoked pork shoulder melted and worked perfectly with the pickled vegetables and the green leaves tucked neatly under the focaccia.  I liked the use of pickled stuff, something that adds to the curated rusticism of the restaurant.

For mains I did my usual and went for the burger option. I went for the 6oz Chuck Beef Flamed Burger served in a charred pretzel roll with melted cheese, beefsteak tomato, skin-on fries and dressed rocket leaves (£10) and Tori headed in the direction of the 12 Hour Smoked Beef Brisket served in a charred pretzel roll with smoked tomato & pepper salsa and skin-on fries (£10).

A pretzel roll? Yes. A roll made of pretzel dough, again a creative take on the standard way of doing things.  It would have been nice to have had it charred, but this small detail did not get in the way of our enjoyment of this epic thing.

I was also really happy to see a restaurant serving Hog’s Bottom Delights sauces, the first that I’ve seen in the area.  These sauces and preserves are made by Hogs Bottom Delights based in Lifton in Devon, the company is run by a chap called Maurice who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Live Love Eat Awards 2015

Sam Jones (18 of 31)

I digress…

Tori’s Beef Brisket was something to behold; soft melty meat smoked delicately. Although I was happy with my burger, but I did suffer from ‘I want what you have’…

Normally I only to two courses, in fact it at the point we finished our meal we had a small debate about whether we could carry on.  But it had to be done!

We shared delightful choclaty dessert with fruit and chocolate and a wonderful cherry sauce. And chocolate.  A perfect finale to a very nice meal.

The Samuel Jones has a creative menu, using things I haven’t had seen before (pretzel rolls, deep fried gherkins etc.) and this innovation makes The SJ a restaurant that deserves the praise that it gets.  If you want a place to watch people, this is also a good location given its commanding views across the Quayside and as I mentioned, definitely ‘best views in Exeter’ when it comes to dining out with style thanks to large windows.

Sam Jones (23 of 31)

Cuba Cantina, Gandy Street -by Lauren Heath

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15 Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS. Tel: 01392 425200 

https://www.facebook.com/cubacantina/

Considering I work 3 doors down from this new foodie venture, I’m not quite sure why it’s taken me this long to eat in there.  I have had a few nosey’s, and walking past it every lunch time I’m pleased to say others have happily wandered in more easily. Perhaps it is because I lunch alone most days; it seems to be the sort of place for sharing with others.

Don’t necessarily be fooled if it looks too quiet or empty downstairs.  There are 3 great rooms upstairs for chilling in.

Pay day swung round and my fellow colleagues, with the same burning question (why haven’t we been?!) agreed we should spend our hard earned dough on some tortillas!

There’s no walk through of my meal experience needed here. In short, there is great music, smiling faces, a hot counter with fillings, a cold counter with toppings and a very cool (or rather hot) rotating tortilla/wrap spinning warmer contraption.

Food was made up in front of us within minutes, with a medium burrito stuffed with rice, pulled pork, spicy sauce, guacamole, sour cream etc and a can of coke coming in under £5. All very well wrapped to hold everything in…until you get to the end when all the juicy goodness is escaping and you try eat that last mouthful – a satisfying challenge!

One of my colleagues who had the chicken burrito, also chose the nachos as an extra to share, and they were well topped and delicious-and I’m an avid nacho maker at home. It’s not gastronomic, but it’s not meant to be.  It was flavoursome, filling and delicious. Isn’t that all we want?

My colleague hit it on the nose – it’s like a Cuban version of a Subway – fresh, fast food and affordable…but in very individual surroundings. I’ve noticed queries about whether the menu actually reflects Mexico as opposed to Cuba – having looked this up they are in fact very similar cuisines but Cuban uses more citrus flavours as opposed to the heat of Mexico.

They have deals on for a bucket of beer and plenty of other drinks on offer if that’s what you want with the gang and are open late into the evenings, great for a chill out evening with your friends.  So bring your dough, and get some tasty tortillas – to eat in or for on the go.

Broadbean Pea & Courgette Crostini’s from Chef Tom Allbrook

I am chuffed to bits to be able to present a series of recipes from the talented North Devon based Chef Tom Allbrook from HornBrook Kitchen who will be offering a ‘recipe of the week’.

HornBrook Kitchen is a new venture that is set to take the Devon food scene by storm! They love vegetarian and smokey foods, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the foodie table in the future.

The first recipe is for delicious Broadbean Pea & Courgette Crostini’s which I might have to have go at myself!  Perfect for starters or a light summer appetiser.  Broadbeans and courgettes most certainly in season at the moment.

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Image courtesy of Tom Allbrook

Ingredients:

Half a courgette peeled
150g Frozen or fresh broad beans (defrost them)
120g Frozen peas (defrost them)
Small handful of mint plus extra for presentation
Rape seed oil
Feta 50g crumbled
1 lemon
Salt & Pepper
Soft Cream Cheese 2tblsp
Double Cream 2tblsp
4 slices of Ciabatta

Method:

Chop the mint finely and peel the courgette. Place in a bowl with the defrosted peas & broad beans; make sure you shell the broad beans, you can do this by holding them over a bowl and popping them out of their jackets with your thumb and fore finger.

Slice your ciabatta and drizzle with a little oil then place in a hot griddle pan. Make sure your pan is red hot, having it too cold is often a common mistake and you will find your bread sticks and doesn’t cook as quick as you would like.

In a jug make a dressing to pour over your courgette bean and pea mixture. To do so whisk together the juice of half a lemon, a good glug of rapeseed oil and salt and pepper.  Leave to one side and when ready to serve pour it over the greens and mix together.

For the spread beat together the cream cheese, salt and pepper and the other half of the lemon juice.

Now it’s time to assemble and eat! Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of your crostini top with your dressed greens. Place on a platter or board and crumble over the feta, finally top with a sprinkling of baby mint leaves and a drizzle of rapeseed oil.

For more information follow HornBrook Kitchen on Twitter and Instagram.  And keep posted for a 10 Questions from Tom later next week.

You can also follow Tom’s personal accounts on Twitter and Instagram too.

 

First entries for Queen St ‘Find A Foodie’ Revealed

Overwhelming Response to Exeter’s Food Entrepreneur Search

Fledgling foodies in and around Exeter have risen to the ‘Find a Foodie’ challenge launched by Queen St to discover the ‘next big thing’ in food, taking the first step closer to being part of culinary revolution right in the heart of Exeter city centre.

The call for entries to discover an entrepreneur, an individual or a team with an enterprising idea, a signature dish or an innovative food product was launched in line with this year’s Exeter Food Festival at the end of April.

Bowled Over by Variety

The team behind Find a Foodie and the development of the £12m culinary hub at Queen St have been met by tidal wave of interest from those who feel they have the energy and drive to bring their foodie ideas to a wider audience at the much anticipated dining quarter.

Organisers have been truly bowled over by the variety of creative enterprises covering a whole range of flavours, tastes and techniques in the first tranche of Find a Foodie entries.

Some of the expressions of interests received so far include foodies specialising in Devon crab, vegan ice cream, sushi, southern Italian dishes, cupcakes and bakes, locally sourced fine dining, superfoods, hummus, macaroni cheese, stuffed rolls, Mexican dishes andlocally sourced burgers. Each entrant hoping they have what it takes to become the Queen St Foodie.

Eyes on the Prize

The entrants have all been inspired to enter by the ‘Find a Foodie’ impressive package of support, which includes:

– A purpose built kiosk to trade from free of charge in Queen St, for 3 months

– Branding advice and identity development from a leading premium brand agency

– Marketing/PR planning and support from the agencies launching Queen St

– A free advertising package to assist launch the venture

– Mentoring from a successful food entrepreneur

– Free legal, finance and business advice from Exeter based practices and high street bank

Got a Recipe for Success? Still Time to Enter

There is still time to enter Find a Foodie, you can register your interest at queenst-exeter.com up until the end of the day on Monday 11 July 2016.

Entrants will be shortlisted by an especially selected expert panel, made up of business and food industry judges. Those selected will be invited to showcase their menus and products and compete against other entrants during the summer at the Queen St. Street Food Markets, where the general public will get to vote for their favourites in a taste test round.

The winner will then receive the life changing opportunity to trade for 3 month’s free of charge, with expert advice and support from business mentors, marketing and branding, legal and finance and overall promotion of the Queen St dining quarter.

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Queen St still want to hear from more people, between now and the 11 July 2016, who think they have or know someone that could become the ‘next big thing’ in food.

Entry is easy, just visit the website www.queenst-exeter.com and click on the ‘Find a Foodie’ tab for more information, the prize, terms and conditions and how to enter.

Fully open by the end of August, the Queen St line up is Absurd Bird, Comptoir Libanais, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Grillstock, KuPP, The Stable, The Terrace and Turtle Bay. The dining quarter also has wonderful and welcoming new open air spaces designed especially for food events, markets and entertainment.

Just some entrants so far include:

Big Bakes Bakery run by Charlie Deeley and Ryan Bolton from Torquay.
Make artisan cupcakes, cakes, biscuits and bakes.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Bigbakesbakery
Twitter: @BigBakesBakery / Instagram: @bigbakesbakery

Richenza’s run by Sam Warren from Farringdon, near Exeter,
Signature dish is Devon crab salad with ginger, chilli and coriander, served with his own smoked mackerel on a bed of rocket and bruschetta, garnished with langoustine bisque dressing. All ingredients are locally sourced, including the wood for the charcoal.

Simushi Sushi run by Peter Simmons from Exeter
Makes Sushi which is sold from the trailer at local events and by home delivery. http://www.simushisushi.co.uk/

Mindyourfood run by Sophie Lloyd from Exeter
Mindyourfood aims to encourage awareness of mental health by providing a menu which is rich in brain foods.

Pickle Shack run by Jodie Sawatzki and Josh McDonald-Johnson near Woodbury Salterton near Exeter. Local produce, fine dining at pop-up restaurants including weddings and corporate events. www.pickleshack.co.uk
Twitter: @pickle_shack

Nice n Cheesy
run by Caroline Lee
Gourmet macaroni cheese dishes including signature dish, Greek pasticcio – a lightly spiced lamb mince with tomato sauce, layered with macaroni cheese.

Taco-Macho Food run by Gustavo Lara-Perez from Exeter
Mexican burritos with various fillings, including beef, chicken, pork and vegetarian varieties using local ingredients.

Follow Queen St Dining on Facebook and Twitter for more information about the competition.

 

The Boat House, Dawlish Warren

The Boat House, Beach Way, Dawlish Warren, Devon EX7 0NF – 01626 888 899

ee-recommends_zpsgsj7cdqh.pngIn the world of eating out, dining out and finding somewhere to eat in Exeter, Dawlish Warren doesn’t really jump to the forefront of my mind.  The Mount Pleasant Inn which overlooks the Warren is quite nice, a pub/restaurant with nice views of the surrounding seafront and over to Exmouth.  But below, within this view you can see The Boat House, a large strangely shaped gastro-pub-child-entertainment-hub that sells value food to tourists and day-trippers alike.

If you are a longtime reader of Eating Exeter, you might remember Steve Price’s unfortunate tea-cake based disappointment  a few years ago.  But a recent opportunity to revisit The Boat House came up, so I thought we’d give it another go.

I am adding this pub to my newly created Child Friendly category which I’ve created as a result of the increasing amount of conversations I have with friends and foodies who need a place to go where kids are welcome, not just tolerated.

The Boat House sits in a purpose built building in a complex of attractions at the end of a footpath.  It is accessible both downstairs and upstairs levels can be accessed by wheelchair or those with buggies from two separate entrances, as a result it scores well on this aspect on my internal-mental scorecard.

The wall is covered in ephemera, bits, bobs, knick-knacks and much nautical stuff.  Lots of brass fittings, dark woods and a diorama at the top of a large space within the centre of the building.  I personally find this immensely off-putting; it reminds me of Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag (for non-Simpsons fans this might be lost on you…)

The menu is standard pub stuff.  Burgers, hot dogs, pub classics.

It isn’t a foodie destination, this is what I call ‘functional food.  There is a range of draught lagers available including Hanlon’s Yellow Hammer and Exe Brewery Avocet Ale as well as the usual bottles behind the bar.  But I found the experience to be pleasant, no stress, just a nice meal with lovely views across Lyme Bay and Exmouth.

We both opted for the Brunch (£6.25) and a coke and a pot of tea.

We ordered our food at the food ordering point.  The service throughout our meal was swift and friendly.  Our companions went for the more substantial option, pictured here is one of the burgers for just over £8.00.  It went down very well!

Our friend’s little one found the range of play activities to be quite enthralling, and there was space for him to push around on his scooter outside after we had finished eating.  It was a bug with wheels which he had named ‘Bug-Bug’.  It is moments like this that I often wish to regress to a young enough age where small green toys with wheels became fascinating and fun again!

We finished off our meal with an Ice Cream from the stand outside which is connected to the kitchens of the restaurant indoors.

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Candy Floss anyone?

Dawlish Warren isn’t at the at the top of many lists.  But for kids it is excellent.  The food at The Boat House was pleasant enough, the activities that are available in season for big kids and little kids is enough to keep you entertained and make that £3.20 parking fee worth it.  Or £4.00 if you’re in the long-stay car park.

Alternatively cycle down the wonderful new cycle way that stretches from Exeter to Dawlish or catch the train.  Or park the car at Dawlish and take in the scenic seafront Walk to Dawlish Warren along the sea front? The options are plentiful.

Unpack a Trill Seasons Box for picnic-inspired perfection…

Warm days on Britain’s beautiful beaches and balmy summer evenings spent in meadows bursting with life – that’s the image evoked by the Summer Seasons Box by Trill Farm, available to order now for delivery at the end of June.

Each quarterly Trill Seasons Box is full of beautiful and natural lifestyle products, made from organically-grown or wild-harvested ingredients all supplied by the landscape, organic farm and herb garden at Trill Farm in Devon, founded by Romy Fraser (founder of Neal’s Yard Remedies).

The contents of this Summer’s Seasons box is inspired by al fresco feasts and uses local, seasonal ingredients as the basis for the delicious food items and the refreshing botanicals range.

The entire range of products are skilfully made at Trill, using minimal packaging and resources, by the community of small businesses who work there and share the collective ethos of healthy, responsible and sustainable living.

The Trill Seasons Summer box will include:

  • Trill speciality herbal summer tea
  • Picnic preserves
  • Broad bean bundle
  • Rhubarb cordial
  • Trill Farm summer lavender soap
  • Summer relief spray
  • Nourishing body balm
  • Wooden picnic bowl
  • Beeswax reusable picnic wrap
  • Picnic recipe booklet
  • Citronella candle
  • Hand illustrated butterfly postcards

Trill Seasons Boxes are available quarterly and cost £85 each. The Summer box will be dispatched on 28th June (gift vouchers are able for download from the website). Purchase here.

Meat Mastery with Pipers Farm & Exeter Cookery School

Set to open in mid-July on Exeter’s historic Quayside, Exeter Cookery School has announced an exciting collaboration with the award-winning Pipers Farm, with the first in a series of butchery and meat cookery courses taking place on 9 th August, leading foodies on a fascinating journey from field to plate.

Local food hero Peter Greig of Pipers Farm will join forces with Jim Fisher, head chef and co-owner of Exeter Cookery School, to teach participants all about the various cuts of meat,

butchery techniques and preparation, through to how to cook the meat using a variety of methods such as searing, braising, poaching, roasting and stir-frying. Participants will also learn how to make stocks and sauces, as well as how to enhance the flavour by the varied use of seasoning, charring, larding and marinating.

Jim Fisher says: “We are very excited about this new collaboration with Pipers Farm. We couldn’t think of a better partner to help us teach people about animal husbandry and why it’s more important than ever before. We’ll take participants through how to break down a whole lamb carcass into a range of popular cuts and portion a free range chicken.

“As with all our courses, it’s totally hands-on, with only a few essential demos by Peter and myself before letting everyone get stuck in themselves. Lunch will be what our guests have prepared and cooked that morning, and at the end of the day, they’ll get to take home the fruits of their labours together with a recipe pack so they can recreate the dishes for loved Peter and Henri Greig and their team produce some of the finest meat in the UK, reared using time-honoured methods that hark back to the days of good old-fashioned animal husbandry.

Fed as nature intended, Pipers Farm cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens are lovingly nurtured on the Greig’s idyllic farm near Cullompton in Devon and on their network of 25 small family farms. Peter & Henri passionately believe that these are essential to the fabric of a truly sustainable rural landscape.

Peter Greig says: “We knew quite quickly after meeting and chatting to Jim and Lucy that they shared our values and we are excited to work with them on what we hope is the first of many joint events at Exeter Cookery School. We also hope to welcome Exeter Cookery School participants to Pipers Farm for future collaborative events – so watch this space.” Exeter Cookery School is now firmly on track to open in mid-July, combining a Sapphire Spaces-designed Bulthaup kitchen, featuring state-of- the-art Gaggenau appliances, with a super cool interior.

As well as the butchery and meat cookery course on 9 th August, they have a full calendar of exciting evening, day and half-day cookery courses planned, from how to make classic sauces to taking you into the realms of the professional pastry chef with their one-day advanced desserts course.

For the full list of cookery courses or more information, please visit
www.exetercookeryschool.co.uk or call 07415 783759.

Photos courtesy of Zara Whitfield / Pipers Farm

10 Questions: Boom Kitchen® by Lauren Heath

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Boom Kitchen®  www.boomkitchen.co.uk
f: /boomkitchen  t: @boomrevolution  m: 07894586536

Our awareness of Boom Kitchen® came about during one of our many food event visits. We both love curries and make them from scratch occasionally at home, but no one can deny that it is easier to keep a sauce in the cupboard.

What initially caught our eye was the Lady Naga kit as my husband is a serious chilli head who likes to enjoy the flavour of a product and not just the heat. One of his pitfalls is that he hates cooked onions – something you cannot avoid in most pre-prepared food products, especially in a jar of sauce from the supermarket. With the kits there are only spices and so this dilemma is avoided as you can add whatever veg you want.

All curry kits include:

  • Boom Base™ (a curry stock made from over 17 natural ingredients)
  • a freshly ground spice mix
  • another recipe component or 2 depending on the kit

The instructions on the pack are clear to follow for anyone, no matter what level of cooking experience you are. The spices are packaged in minimal plastic packets and the outer packaging is cardboard and recyclable.

Each kit contains Boom Base™ , the finest fresh spices and all the curry essentials you need to knock up a restaurant beating curry in under 30 mins. They only use natural ingredients, no artificial colours or preservatives and the kits are suitable to vegetarians, vegans and people on gluten free diets. All made by hand in Devon.

The guys love tweets from customers all over, telling them about their tweaks or additions to the base instructions. My husband loves cooking his cauliflower first, saving the cauli water, and using that to infuse his chillis for a fuller, sweeter flavour.

This year, for the 3rd year running, they have won a Taste of the West award for one of their products – the new Sri-Lankan curry kit that is yet to be released on the public; we can’t wait to try it!

I asked Boom Kitchen® 10 questions so we, and you, can find out more about them and their award winning products. These guys are passionate about what they do and have a great sense of humour…here goes:

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Jim and Carl at Exeter Food and Drink Festival

1. Who is behind Boom Kitchen®?

Carl and Jim. We married a couple of Devon Maids who happened to be friends. Shortly after we met we discovered a mutual respect  for craft beer and all things spicy.

2. Where is the business based and when did it start?

Today Boom HQ is at Mullacott Business Park, 10 mins from our homes in Braunton near the stunning North Devon coastline. As industrial estates go it’s pretty stunning with panoramic views across to South Wales and Lundy Island.

It all started around Christmas time 2012. It was Claire (Carl’s wife and packaging designer extraordinaire www.buffdesign.co.uk) who was the catalyst for Boom.

Claire was pregnant at the time and craving spices. Carl obliged by cooking curries and spicy dishes in large quantities and to keep up the variety he revisited some of the many recipes he’d gathered from his globetrotting (previously thought to be misspent!) youth. I (Jim) was lucky enough to sample some of Carl’s recipes and was blown away buy how fresh and tasty they all were.

At the time the craft beer scene was exploding and we thought if you can get people passionate about the craft of beer making you could do the same with curry.

3. Why curry kits?

While I can’t remember the exact Eureka moment we’d just started watching Breaking Bad which is all about ‘entrepreneruail cooking’. I’m convinced it was Walter White’s exploits that inspired Carl to get all scientific with his recipe formulas.

There are a few of reasons why we settled on the kit format…

The first is we wanted to put the spices centre stage and pass the enjoyment of cooking with fresh spices over to the home cook. Why fill Lloyd Grossman’s factory with aromas when you could have those in your own kitchen!

The second is the kit format allows people to make the curry their own. You’d be surprised how many people buy our kits because of the stuff we leave out. We provide the building blocks for curry flavour (spices, chillies, coconut etc) but we leave you to add the oil, salt, sugar, meat, veg, dairy or dairy -free alternative.

The third is the kit makes it fast and fresh. No more grinding and measuring out the spices and watching the lesser used spices  on your spice rack collect dust!

The final reason is we don’t have to add any nasties. We looked into supplying a wet sauce then realised all the nasties we’d have to pump into it to make it shelf safe – no thanks.

4. How long does it take you to perfect a recipe/kit?

It took about 9 months to get the first 3 kits off the ground from a standing start. We now have 5 with a 6th coming soon!

The recipes aren’t the difficult bit, it’s giving them the Boom treatment that takes the time. Once we’re happy with the flavours from the recipe it’s about getting the blend right and by that we don’t just mean the spices. It’s about the…

*healthiness of the dish and the ability for the customer to keep it healthy if they want (or indulgent if they don’t!)

*speed of cooking – has to be sub 30 minutes prep and cook or else it’s not Boom!

*sense of craft our customers get when making the dish – has their involvement been instrumental?

*the quality of the ingredients we can source and their availability year round

5.What happens on a typical day?

All sorts! Although we only have 5 kits we have 12 curry building blocks made up from about 50 different ingredient and packaging components.

All it takes is for you to run out of methi or a Boom whole spices sticker for the entire operation to grind to a halt. So there’s a lot of stock checking and planning / reacting!

Our production cycles between making and packing the inner building blocks (blending spices for the mixes, sourcing coconut, chillies and whole spices etc) then bringing the 3-4 different components together to make-up the final kits.

It really is different every day with the added excitement of having to get all the online, retail and food service orders out. No matter how busy we are the perk is we can always have curry for tea. We have it about 3 nights a week in my house and more if we’re testing!

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Image courtesy of Boom Kitchen Website

6. We have seen on your social media, about large packs that pubs are using to do curry nights – what a great idea! How did that come about?

We have the Bell Inn at Chittlehampton to thank for that. Mark and Lyns’s son Matthew loved our curries and wanted us to do bigger packs so they could put Boom Kitchen® on the menu.

We’re also using the large kits to help a charity called Frank Water who provide fresh drinking water to some of the most marginalised communities in India. If you want to get involved and host your own Karma Korma charity night for Frank or a charity of your choosing get in touch via our website to request a fund raiser kit. We’ll give you everything you need to host a curry night for friends and family and put good curry towards a good cause of your choice!

7. What are your plans for the future?

We’ve got a new Sri Lankan recipe coming out later this year which we’re really excited about. It’s going to be a zero sugar recipe – we don’t add sugar to any of our kits but advise the home cook to add some in line with our instructions to replicate the flavours you’d get in a restaurant or to add to taste.

Our new Sri Lankan kit doesn’t need a grain of sugar and i think it’s our tastiest recipe to date. With all the recent controversy with the amount of sugar in Dolmio sauces we think our healthy Sri Lankan will go down a storm.

8. Where can people buy your products – outlets, food festivals?

 It used to be mainly in the South West and independent farm shops and delis but now we’re starting to branch out across the country with stockists in London the North of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

We also sell direct from our website and through a number of gifting sites like Not on the High Street. We tend to do local food festivals like Exeter, Dartmouth, Powderham and support the monthly Barnstaple Real Food Market which is right on our doorstep.

9. You have collaborated with Okemoor pies as well – how did that happen?

We met them at the Darts Farm producer banquet (amazing annual event where you get to meet producers and eat all their food). We got chatting and they mentioned they’d tried making a curry pie before but found it hard to get the curry consistent. We said we might be able to help and have been supplying them with humungous curry kits for about a year now. They’re going really well and have even picked up a few awards from Taste of the West so we’re thrilled. Chuck steak and Lady Naga is my favourite.

10. And to finish off – tell us something funny, random or interesting!

Random? Russell Kane (off the telly) uses our Bhuna Curry Kit to curry omelettes.

And…We seem to have a bit of a following in the Shetlands – I suppose it’s a long round trip to a curry house!

Funny? I used to find it funny when I could smell Carl cooking from about 200 meters down the road. His entire house stank of curry and it took about a year after we moved into the unit for the smell of onions to completely go from his house and his clothes. He has very supportive neighbours!

How about a joke? Oh god?! Had a pelican curry the other night. Tasted OK but the bill was enormous. Awful.

Interesting? We can only pack our coconut when the weather is cool. If it gets too warm it clogs the nozzles on the machines!

BOOM!

Products can be bought on their website, direct from them at Barnstaple Market or from Darts Farm near Topsham. If you want to know if there is a stockist near you, visit http://boomkitchen.co.uk/pages/find-us for a current list or just tweet them, they are always happy to help!

A different cut of meat for your BBQ! via countrywoodsmoke

I really enjoyed Marcus’ video on BBQ goat meat.  Can’t wait to give it a try one day!

Back for 2016: South West Chef of The Year

Non watermarked images courtesy of South West Chef Of The Year.

The prestigious South West Chef of the Year competition is back and open for entries.  Last year I had the honour of being invited to watch some of the region’s finest chefs produce some staggeringly wonderful food in the heat of the kitchens state-of-the-art facilities at Exeter College.  More details are available here on their website if you are considering entering.

Attracting the south west’s best culinary talent with professional and home cooks taking part,the competition is hotly contested in each of its five categories and continues to be one of the most exciting demonstrations of imagination, skill and proficiency in the region. Semi-finals and finals take place at catering colleges throughout the south west and the competition culminates in a glittering awards presentation evening in the autumn.

Judged by exceptional chefs of the region, the panel is led by 2 Michelin starred Michael Caines MBE who also co-founded the competition with the aim of both recognising excellence in the south west hospitality industry and nurturing the next generation of chefs and budding young cooks. The competition provides a launch pad for contestants and winners alike with many going on to exciting careers at restaurants around the UK.

Michael Caines, Judge and co-founder of the competition says, “Taking part in South West Chef of the Year can provide a fantastic platform to further your career, even if you don’t win. It’s a chance to demonstrate your skills to some of the South West’s top chefs and gain valuable publicity for your talents. The competition also promotes the exceptional produce we enjoy in the south west. I feel very proud to champion this.”

Previous winners of South West Chef of the Year include the award winning chef Simon
Hulstone of The Elephant who has since gone on to represent the UK in the 2011 Bocuse d’Or; Ian Webber of The Five Bells in Devon recently awarded its first Michelin Bib Gourmand; Matt Mason of the multi-award winning The Jack in the Green, recommended by Alastair Sawday and Matt Downing of the acclaimed River Cottage. Joining Michael on the judging panel are Chris and James Tanner of Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare, Neil Haydock of Watergate Bay Hotel and Mark Dodson of The Masons Arms as well as Matt Mason, Ian Webber and many more highly accomplished chefs.

The categories are: Professional, Young Professional, Student Chef, Home Cook and Junior.
Entry is now open for all categories except the Junior category which has now closed.
Applications should be made online at http://www.southwestchef.co.uk/how-to- enter/ by 1 st August.

The Professional category has been designed to challenge those of any age working in the
industry at sous or pastry chef level, or above. To enter, Professional chefs must submit recipes for a starter and main; the menu must include whole pheasant in one course and scallops and razor clams in the other.

Successful menus will go through to the semi-finals at Exeter College
on 8th October. Chefs aged 19 to 24 years and working in any kitchen role within the industry up to and including junior sous chef, may apply to the Young Professional category which has the same entry requirements. Young Professional chefs must cook with whole partridge, smoked back bacon and whole sea trout.

For those aged 16 – 19 years, the Student/Apprentice category is for full-time students and
apprentice chefs and has two possible entry routes. Regional catering colleges are invited to nominate a student to the semi-final while a number of places are reserved for individual entries made directly by students and apprentices. Those applying directly will be appraised by the judging panel. Again, the entry requirement is to submit a two course menu comprising a starter and main that use whole guinea fowl, monkfish tails and mussels. Those menus selected will go through to semi-finals to be held at Exeter College on 8 th October.

The Junior category is for young cooks at school and aged between 11 and 16 years. Entries for this category have already closed and selected entrants have been invited to prepare one main course dish of their choice at a catering college during the first county-based round to be held in June and July.

Michael Caines continues: ‘We are really pleased to offer finalists in the Junior category first rate mentoring to help them progress. The aim of this category is to help young cooks develop their skills and their interest in a career in catering. For this reason, each finalist is mentored by one of the county judges who invites them into their kitchen to help them improve their skills, widen their understanding of various processes and gain valuable experience of a working, commercial kitchen. It’s an exceptional opportunity for young people with a passion for cooking.’

The judges also recognise the fantastic talent of home cooks and invite those aged 16 years or above with no formal training in or work experience of the catering industry to enter the competition. Those interested in applying for the Home Cook category must devise a two course menu for two people; with a main that includes either pork tenderloin or whole sea trout and a dessert which uses one or more from the following list of ingredients: apples, pears, autumn berries, quinces and vanilla paste. Successful entrants will be invited to cook their menu at the final taking place at Ashburton Cookery School on 15 th October.

A celebratory and lavish awards presentation will take place on 24 th October at Exeter Golf and Country Club who also sponsor the event. As well as winners in each of the main categories there will also be presentations for Best Dish, Best Presentation, Best Use of Regional Produce and Best Menu. The ceremony concludes with the awarding of the prestigious overall South West Chef of the Year 2016 title to one of this year’s entrants. Tickets will be available for all who wish to enjoy an evening of food and celebration!#

www.southwestchef.co.uk

Twitter: @SWChefComp

Facebook: www.facebook.com/southwestchef

Back from holiday – Thank you Lauren!

We all need a holiday and I was lucky enough to escape to Ibiza for a week of sun-baking and Mediterranean goodness.  I’ll most probably do a full write up on Medium, and spare the intricate details, but here are a few snaps.

Thank you to Lauren for looking after Eating Exeter so well whilst I was away!

Marco’s New York Italian – by Lauren Heath

Clyst Honiton, Exeter EX5 2LJ – @marcosexeter – 01392 348111 

ee-recommendsOn the east side of Exeter, off a lane at the back of the airport, lies a hotel in a convenient location for travellers. Beside said hotel is a restaurant which, in my opinion, is conveniently located for locals. With easy access by car off the M5, A30, surrounding villages that lie east of the city and with plenty of free parking is Marco’s New York Italian.

Having been open 3 years now, I was invited to give it a try so on Friday night Steve and I went to see what it was all about. We are well aware of the story of Marco Pierre White and, at the same time, are aware that a restaurant associated with a chef’s name can be a let down as they inevitably don’t cook there, with prices to imply that they do.

Having looked over the menu last year, I recall seeing items such as hot dogs  – and for some reason this made me think that, for a restaurant, perhaps the food was a bit too basic and not going to be good. Thankfully, the menu has since changed slightly, and we already had our eye on one or two items before our arrival.

On entry, it is designed so that you wait by a reception desk and, if you wish, start off your evening in the smart bar with its casual seating or stools.The bar area is very cool; dark wood, good lighting – matching the italian/american theme.

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Having been seated at our table, we browsed the wine menu which is well laid out first of all by colour, then by what food it would suit. For a change I chose the Pino Grigio Rose (£6.65 for 250ml) and Steve was intrigued by Passori Rosso which was under the subheading of spicy peppery red as well as having the MR (Marco Recommends) next to it and described as simply stunning (£9.25 for 250ml). My wine was delightfully light with a hint of rose and Steve was very impressed with his wine – sweet, rich, peppery; he agreed it was something different as the menu had described.

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We then set ourselves on the food menu; Steve had already decided on the Grilled Jumbo Shrimps (£9.75) served alone in all their glory, but brushed with rosemary, garlic butter and sea salt and a sprinkling of baby coriander leaves. Some may feel this was a bit ‘naked’ but he believes seafood should be served as simply as possible. He couldn’t locate any rosemary flavouring but his words were “they were cooked to perfection”. A huge and rare compliment indeed from a seafood lover with over two decades of culinary experience. Maybe one or two more on the plate would have been nice, but he was pleased to have had a light starter.

I, on the other hand, decided to be a little bit brave (polite word for greedy) and go for the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork Nachos (under the heading ‘For the Table’; £6.50). I was informed this could be a sharer but I went for it anyway as I love nachos. It was a really tasty dish, served with what tasted more like BBQ coated pork along with melted cheese (Monteray Jack possibly), homemade guacamole which was lovely and chunky, as well as a very nice sweet chilli sauce-come-salsa. I can see that it could be a sharer between 2 people for a light starter each or even between 3 for nibbles.

For mains I knew I wanted a pizza so opted for the Americano (£9.50) and asked if I could have mushrooms on it as well which was accepted without any issue. Steve chose the Great American Beef Burger with BBQ sauce, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, served with seasoned fries (£11.50). The pizza was approximately 10 inches at a guess, and was right on the money. Stonebaked base, well cooked with crispy edges. The meat was not pepperoni, but like a milano salami which was very tasty with a good amount of tomato and cheese supporting it. It also came with its own pizza cutter which was very uself. Steve’s burger was juicy and a good thickness, served with partially skin on fries. He also enjoyed the cheese but post meal we realised that he didn’t recall any BBQ sauce; it was, however, served with its own individual sealed tomato ketchup pot.

Somehow we found room for pudding. Having a savoury tooth, Steve was very pleased to see a cheeseboard and ordered the Selection of Italian Cheeses (£7.50). When this arrived, it was very appealing visually. Served with high quality biscuits and with two ramekins of accompaniments, one of which was a beautiful honey. The cheeses were mozzarella (definitely not your average shop bought mozzarella), parmesan, goats cheese and gorgonzola. He enjoyed it immensely.

I went for the Classic Affogato; vanilla ice cream served with a shot of espresso and amaretti biscuits (£5.25). I am not totally sure how you are meant to eat this dessert but I love that you can eat and drink it. I have had this pudding before elsewhere, and normally the coffee is served in an espresso cup that when you try and pour it on the ice cream it goes everywhere, so I was delighted to see it in a mini gravy boat which was also rather cute! My only critique would be the presentation; it would have looked great served on a board or slate to bring it all together – but if that’s my only complaint then they have nothing to worry about. The vanilla ice cream was absolutely delicious – full on vanilla flavour and so creamy; the coffee was excellent and very strong.

In between courses we looked at our surroundings and mused; there is an open kitchen but it’s a tiny shame the seating near it has such high backs that you are unable to enjoy it in full view and the same goes for the bar area – hidden by high backs of the end booth area. On the plus side, I love the chequered floor and thankfully the seating and tablecloths are plain and simple so as not to clash. A nice mirror at the end gives further depth to an already large dining area capable of seating around 90 and I am aware they can cater for large parties which is useful to know. There is plenty of space between tables so your conversations at the table are your own, and we noted you could definitly fit prams or wheelchairs in without coming close to the next table which is a big plus as many chain restaurants really cram the tables in.

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Overall, it was a very enjoyable meal for a what we believe to be a good price (approx £50 for 2 people with 3 courses each excluding drinks). The food was uncomplicated and very tasty and the restaurant is smart but relaxed. I’m not sure how many locals or city dwellers go here for lunch or dinner, but it isn’t just for hotel guests or flight passengers. Yes, Marco’s face is on the walls here and there with his name above the door but if the name puts you off by giving visions of shouty chefs, expensive food or just another chain – I suggest you ignore the name (except for when you put it in your sat nav!) and I urge you to give it a try. Filling, tasty and good value for money. Yes Chef!

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